30

December

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 33, Bears 28

Eddie Lacy and Aaron Rodgers make the Packers a dangerous team in the playoffs.

Eddie Lacy and Aaron Rodgers make the Packers a dangerous team in the playoffs.

In what began as a promising year and at one point took a dive into early NFL draft talk, the Green Bay Packers’ regular season ended Sunday exactly how they’d always hoped it would. With a division championship and a spot in the NFC playoffs.

It really has been a roller-coaster year for the Packers. After two losses in their first three games, the panic button seemed to be within arm’s distance. Then, suddenly, they were 5-2 with a favorable second-half schedule. But when Aaron Rodgers went down and Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn were forced to start games for Green Bay, the team’s playoff aspirations were in serious doubt.

But the team kept playing, stayed alive and played well enough to win the division, and it’s now time for a new season to begin.

This season–the postseason–is different than the regular season. It’s a five-week season with four possible games. It doesn’t matter who was starting for each team in September or who’s been lost along the way. Right now, there are 12 teams sitting at 0-0 while the other 20 teams reflect on their season and look ahead to the offseason.

The Packers are one of those 12 teams still alive. And they have a guy who wears No. 12 who makes them a contender to win the whole thing.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers were unspectacular if not just good enough. They’re not the Seattle Seahawks, nor the Carolina Panthers or San Francisco 49ers, but they have an offense that could score enough points against any defense in the postseason.

Right now, Rodgers is leaning on one of the NFC’s most consistent running games behind Eddie Lacy and an improving offensive line, and Randall Cobb has returned to the lineup to once again give the Packers one of the league’s top receiving corps. Jarrett Boykin has stepped up in a big way in his second NFL season, and Nelson has been able to handle some slot duties, but Cobb is undoubtedly the Packers’ best playmaker in the middle of the field–an area the Packers haven’t gotten much production out of since Cobb and Jermichael Finley were injured in October.

25

April

Green Bay Packers Draft Matchup: LB Shea McClellin vs. DE/LB Whitney Mercilus

Shea McClellin OLB Boise State NFL Draft Profile

Shea McClellin OLB Boise State

Both Shea McClellin and Whitney Mercilus could be considered late risers on most NFL draft boards, including the Packers’ board. Different types of late risers, but late risers nonetheless.

Mercilus had only two sacks and didn’t do much of anything at Illinois in 2009-10 before exploding for 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles in 2011. McClellin wasn’t a highly regarded recruit coming into Boise St., but kept improving and became a feared edge rusher and versatile hybrid LB/DE. While Mercilus was projected as a first-rounder as soon as “draft season” started, it took a while for McClellin to get the attention he deserved and start rising up boards.

If McClellin and Mercilus are still avalaible when the Packers pick in the first round, I would take McClellin. I think McClellin still has some room to grow as a pass rusher and I’d love to see him develop opposite of Clay Matthews. I also think McClellin is a better fit in Dom Capers’ defense. He can rush from the edge, drop into coverage, stunt up the middle and move around if needed as Capers disguises his coverages and schemes.

It’s tough to go against Mercilus’ numbers from last season and his obvious raw talent, but he plays a little too high for my tastes and I think he’s more of a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 OLB. I can’t see Mercilus dropping into coverage or doing much of anything else besides trying to chase the QB from the edge.

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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22

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

 

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With no Packers Football

If you missed the three-hour ESPN special unveiling the NFL schedule, congratulations. I was open minded enough to give it a shot, but only managed to last about five minutes before trying to leap through my living-room window.

 

Three hours to unveil the NFL schedule?! I allow the NFL and the Green Bay Packers to monopolize my life from September through January. I can’t let them do the same in April.

 

Besides, why watch an ESPN anchor read off a cue card and a bumbling former player or two unveil the schedule in Bristol, CT, when you could just visit ALLGBP.com and find out all you need to know? Here’s a link to the NFL schedule, and below are some random thoughts on the portion of the schedule that involves the greatest franchise in the history of sports, the Packers.

 

  • I was hoping the Packers would play the Giants in the NFL’s Wednesday kickoff game. I didn’t care about exacting revenge for the playoff loss, but it would’ve been nice for the Packers to get 10 days off after the season opener. It turns out the Packers will get 10 days off early in the season, but it comes after playing the Bears on Thursday night in week two.
  • I’m mad that the Packers don’t have an early October home game. Those first three weeks in October are perfect for football at Lambeau.
  • The Packers should be shooting for 7-2 by the bye week. That’s assuming they’ll go 2-2 against San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans and Houston. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go into the bye 9-0 or 8-1 (I think San Francisco comes back down to earth a little), but 7-2 would be fine.
  • The Packers generally have at least one December clunker where they lose to a bad team. The Vikings might be the bad team that beats the Packers this season. Minnesota will have two chances, the first on Dec. 2 at Lambeau and in the finale on Dec. 30. Perhaps it’ll come on Dec. 30 when the Packers are resting starters (how’s that for confidence?).
  • Speaking of that Dec. 30 game, what if it’s the Vikings’ final game in Minnesota? Do Packers and Vikings fans hug after the game and wish each other well? Do Vikings fans become Packers fans? Do Packers fans allow Vikings fans to become Packers fans? Do Packers fans continue to hate the Vikings even if they’re in Los Angeles? So many questions…
8

April

Surviving Sunday: Packers News, Notes and Links for the Football Deprived

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

Surviving Sundays With No Packers Football

This news about Aaron Rodgers being in the final eight to make the cover of the new Madden video game upset me. No, it didn’t make me angry because I believe in some silly Madden curse and worry about Rodgers breaking his leg or turning into Mark Sanchez, it angered me because Madden isn’t as fun for me as it used to be. I don’t want the QB for my favorite NFL team as the poster boy for a video game that never really does anything to improve year in and year out besides make roster updates.

Before I get to Packers news and links, allow me to pontificate a bit on this topic:

Maybe it’s because I’m 30 years old and growing out of mashing buttons on a controller, but I need more depth in my video games than what Madden offers. Yes, the bells and whistles of Madden are nice and I still buy it every year, but I always feel empty after playing it. The game looks like football. It sounds like football. It’s supposed to be football. But it doesn’t feel like football.

I want to do more in a football video game than just find a few plays that typically work and try to exploit the game’s artificial intelligence. I need player ratings to actually matter, even ratings for interior offensive linemen and backup linebackers. I need an opponent that realistically reacts to my playcalling, allowing me to set up future play calls or adjust on the fly to my opponent’s new strategy. I need realistic statistics and results, not every game ending 45-41 and defensive ends totaling 30 sacks per season.

To be fair, Madden has gotten better in these areas over the last five years. But it’s nowhere near perfect. Perfection may never be achieved, at least in my jaded eyes, but there are football games that come close, much closer than Madden, anyway.

The top two for my money are Front Office Football and Action PC Football. Before explaining why, I need to warn you that both are text-based simulations. This means there are no fancy HD graphics and theater-quality sound effects that make you feel like you’re in an NFL stadium. No button-mashing is required to complete passes or recover a fumble, either. Yet both games feel much more like football than any version of Madden I’ve played.

13

March

NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Shea McClellin, DE/OLB Boise State

Shea McClellin OLB Boise State NFL Draft Profile

Shea McClellin OLB Boise State

Green Bay Packers draft prospect profile: Shea McClellin

Player information:

  • Shea McClellin, DE/OLB Boise State
  • 6-foot-3, 260lbs
  • The type of player coaches (especially one named Kevin Greene) love. Hard worker that gives you full effort at all times and is always looking to improve.

NFL Combine:

  • 4.62 40yd dash
  • 4.33 20 yard shuttle
  • 7.07 3-cone drill
  • 9.83′ long jump
  • 31.5″ vertical jump
  • 19 bench press reps

News & Notes:

Boise State was the only FBS school that showed any interest in McClellin out of High School. Played running back and linebacker in High School. McClellin has built himself up and gotten bigger and better every year. Played multiple positions at Boise, as a DE with his hand on the ground and a LB from a standing position. The 19 bench press reps at the combine might be a red flag, until you find out he measured out with 32 3/4″ arms and 10 1/8″ hands. Surprised many with his 40 yd dash time.

What they’re saying about him:

Wes Bunting (National Football Post):   A versatile, explosive athlete with a mighty motor who knows how to reach the quarterback. McClellin possesses a solidly put together frame with a strong upper body which maximizes his length into contact. He plays all over the Boise State defense. He will play with his hand on the ground, can stand up and rush from a two-point stance and will blitz from the inside as well.  Impression: McClellin is a productive pass rusher with a big motor, good skill set and can get after the QB in a number of ways. Looks like a potential starter at the next level.

Chad Reuter (CBS Sports):   Extremely active and plays with an aggressive playing nature and attitude — self-starter and strong finisher. Country strong and very physical, welcoming contact. Fights and works hard to find a way to beat blockers — disruptive with a nose for the ball. Versatile defensive player with experience at LB, DE and other hybrid front-seven positions. A creative pass rusher, using a variety of moves and techniques to create pressure.

NFL.com (Combine): McClellin has started three consecutive years at defensive end for Boise State. He is an undersized DE who 3-4 teams will value at the OLB position in their schemes. At just under 260 pounds, he can struggle at times against bigger linemen, but he is a decent prospect at the position and has fifth-round value, especially as a swing player.